The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

November 14, 2002


Poetry the Configuration of Lies


the sentiments in poetry are surely never meant to be taken at face value,
how shall i love thee, i'm heading towards armageddon, i think that i
shall never see, even language poetry is guilty of phrasing whose meaning
cannot ever be taken literally or performatively. so what you say. i say
that by its very deflection into the niceties of language, poetry lies,
largely through hyperbole, or the placings of hypotheticals where none are
warranted. poetry is our great escape; we use it to express what-if worlds
without building all of their contents, piece by piece as in the novel -
the bridging effects of the language suture over any anomalies. it does
leave a distaste in the mouth; people rarely read poetry because the lies
are caught out, and the descent into language is just too problematic or
exhausting. isn't it enough we use language all the time, without having
to examine very word of it, over and over again? and every poem is guilty,
surely, of this, every poem has its moments of fascination with fictions
that are never revealed as such.

"O ever present in my view! My wafted spirit is with you, And soothes your
boding fears: I see you all oppressed with gloom Sit lonely in that
cheerless room-- Ah me! You are in tears!" (S.T.C) if ever present, then
his sight is clouded, like a speck in the eye or detached retina. has he
lost his spirit? is it always bothering here? is she completely and always
oppressed? when did this happen? lies, all lies, but a pretty conceit
nonetheless. and hardly think for a moment the exemptness of contemporary
poetry. it suffers under the weight of false performance. nothing happens.
nothing has happened. better an engineering drawing that is translated
more or less one on one to the reality of the concrete.

poetry reduces our morals, can present nothing but false sentiments,
remains a disease which infiltrates our body politic. Plato was right, but
not by virtue of the Dionysian; it's the Apollonian semblance of truth
that decays from within. better to live in an emotional world of speaking
and writing which insists on nothing but confusion, fuzzy boundaries, and
exhilarating thought, the world of the short story or fantasy, clearly
demarcated as such, even the world of the docudrama and its other trans-
genre equivalents. poetry allows anyone to say anything and get away with
anything; if it were not for poetry, Coleridge would be exposed for the
stalker he clearly is.

thus poetry is a configuration of lies, and should be ignored by all prac-
tical people, which is basically all of us who live in this world, and
have not yet gone to the next.


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